The Environment Agency should harness the expertise of farmers
to combat flooding, after years of focussing on the wrong targets
according to the Country Land and Business Association.
Speaking at the waterlogged Royal Welsh Show, CLA President David
Fursdon accused the Environment Agency of failing to prioritise
flood protection and of not being strong enough to secure adequate
funding from Government. He said the Environment Agency had been
'fixated' by the issue of water quality and while this is important
they had failed to properly anticipate flooding.
And he called on the Environment Agency to work with farmers in
a constructive way instead of using the Big Stick approach. Land
could be used differently both in terms of sacrificing land upstream
of settlements for containment of water and using land for crops
and trees that would soak up excess rain.
"The current situation with flooding is a dramatic reminder
of the impact climate change can have on Britain and also an urgent
Wake Up call for the Environment Agency, whose job it is to anticipate
these problems and deal with them appropriately", said Mr
"In this they have been found wanting and have been fixated
on the issue of water quality and the implementation of European
directives. They seem to have been ignoring fundamental problems
of flood prevention and alleviation.
"Often the expertise available in local drainage boards is
ignored, even where farmers have kept their side of the bargain,necessary
dredging has not always been done by the Environment Agency, often
with conservation as an excuse – an excuse that is simply
not good enough.
"The problems are not just the result of recent cuts in the
Environment Agency budget either. These haven't yet had time to
"In any event, if a strong enough case had been made, budget
cuts would not have happened so let's hope for less time spent
on endless paperwork and more time on practical action. This means
talking to farmers and landowners about how they can be part of
the solution and incentivising them to provide washlands and devising
schemes of protection upstream of settlements.
"It's about an attitude of mind and let's hope we can now
have some humility from the Environment Agency and a greater willingness
to look at these issues".
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